Re: [asa] Course on history of ID at Rutgers

From: John Burgeson (ASA member) <>
Date: Wed May 27 2009 - 10:26:12 EDT

Whew! I am so glad I am no longer a collejj student!

On 5/26/09, Ted Davis <> wrote:
> I was recently sent the following information, about a course to be taught
> at Rutgers this fall. I have not been able to verify the details from the
> web site of the Rutgers English dept, but the information appears authentic
> and is obviously not slanderous, so I am copying it here as a point of
> interest and information.
> Prof Jackson's web site is
> Ted
> ****
> Professor Gregory Jackson
> Seminar: The Anglo-American Enlightenment (350:629)
> Tuesdays - 9:50am to 12:50pm
> Bishop House, Room 211
> In this course we're going to take an extended look at the origins of
> "intelligent design," a phrase coined not in our own time but in the
> context of the debates over science and religion in the eighteenth
> century. Far from believing that the two were irreconcilable, many of
> the Enlightenment's influential thinkers worked tirelessly to integrate
> the material and spiritual worlds into a grand design that accounted
> both for the occult and the increasing importance of Newtonian physics
> and the natural sciences. We will range through the works of writers
> such as Ralph Cudworth, Jonathan Edwards, Cotton Mather, George
> Berkeley, David Hume, John Taylor, Anthony Collins, and Daniel Whitby.
> In so doing, we will explore emergent theologies that incorporated
> natural philosophy and empiricism ("evidential Christianity"), including
> Jonathan Mayhew's Seven Sermons, which articulated the rationalized
> "theology of virtue"; Samuel Webster's Winter Evening's Conversation
> Upon the Doctrine of Original Sin (1757); Hume on miracles; and Joseph
> Priestly's Early Opinions of Jesus Christ (1789) and The History of the
> Corruptions of Christianity (1782), a book Thomas Jefferson deemed
> essential reading. We will also read Edwards's posthumous Dissertation
> Concerning the End for Which God Created the World (1755) and The Nature
> of True Virtue (1755), works that summarized orthodox Christians'
> anxiety about the over rationalization of the Protestant theological
> tradition. We will link this historical exploration of design theory to
> contemporary concerns with science and religion as antithetical
> categories.
> While taking place within a transatlantic context, these debates
> comprised a particularly important dimension of the American
> Enlightenment's special interest in Deism and secular humanism. We'll
> contextualize this venture in the century before, in Bacon, Hobbes, and
> Locke, concerning ourselves largely with epistemology. Because the 1692
> Salem witch trials provide an apt synecdoche of the evidentiary crisis
> marking the onset of the American Enlightenment, we'll examine the
> conflicting metaphysics, ontologies, and epistemologies that continued
> to promulgate an atavistic worldview on the one hand, and augur secular
> modernity on the other. And finally under full steam, we will examine
> the importation of neo-stoicism and Baconian empiricism to the colonies,
> filtered through Scottish Common Sense Realism- key philosophical
> underpinnings of Enlightenment debates over natural religion and the
> religion of nature. Expect to read all or parts of Samuel Clarke's
> Natural Religion (1705); Francis Hutcheson, System of Moral Philosophy;
> Thomas Reid's Inquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common
> Sense (1764); and Dugald Steward's Elements of the Philosophy of the
> Human Mind. These classic texts of the Scottish and American
> Enlightenment illuminate the epistemological convergences that have come
> to characterize our secular modernity.
> ***Students interested in taking this course should contact Professor
> Greg Jackson directly at***
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Received on Wed May 27 10:26:30 2009

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